Titans need major WR gains in yards after catch

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – As the Titans assessed their 2016 deficiencies and their receiving corps, they saw a lack of YAC.

Rarely did a player do a lot with the ball after he got it, and yards after the catch are something the team expects a lot more of with Corey Davis and Taywan Taylor now part of the group.

“That’s not a coachable trait,” Titans offensive coordinator Terry Robiskie said. “That’s just a trait that a guy’s got. You can catch it and take a 5-yard out and make a 25-yard play, take a 12-yard curl and make it a 40-yard play, take a 7-yard slant and make it an 80-yard touchdown. You don’t coach that one.”

Per SportingCharts.com, Rishard Matthews led Titans receivers in YAC in 2016 with 198 yards. That ranked 120th in the NFL. The Titans best run after the catch came from running back DeMarco Murray (34th with 374) and tight end Delanie Walker (269, 73rd).

Taylor, the electric third-round pick out of Western Kentucky, was drafted in part to help solve that issue.

“You never want to think ahead, you obviously want to secure the catch first,” he said. “I think it’s a process, ultimately it’s being instinctive on the field, having awareness, always being alert, knowing when you catch the ball where you leave a defender.”

Taylor’s sophomore year he caught a screen pass from Brandon Doughty, split two defenders and took it 55 yards for his first collegiate touchdown. It ranks as his favorite YAC play and came in a 59-31 win over Bowling Green.

Having a feel for where defenders are after a catch can’t get in the way of getting to the right place at the right tome to make the catch, and looking up to assess things too soon can lead to deadly drops.

Under Robiskie, the Titans have preached precision and new veteran Eric Decker is held up as an example to the youngster.

YAC is a bonus, but it’s a bonus the Titans need more of from their receivers. Davis and Taylor were very good at it in college.

Is it more satisfying to run under a deep ball or to turn something sort into a big gain?

“That’s a hard question, because I love deep balls, I am a deep ball guy,” Taylor said. “At the same time I love to make a man miss. Given a choice? I think I’ve got to go with the deep ball, make it easy on me, make it easy on the team.

“It’s all fun though.”

New Titans cornerback Logan Ryan prides himself on closing receivers down quickly.

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“I don’t give up a lot of yards after the catch,” Ryan proclaimed. “Football is about creating space. Receivers try to create separation, and the more you can limit that, the fewer catches you give up and if they actually catch it, it’s less separation for them.

“I just think it’s good eyes, good discipline and then closing that space so they don’t have a lot of room. You give anybody a lot of space, it’s hard to make a tackle."

Ryan said preventing YAC comes out of executing a consistent, monotonous thing: Driving to the receiver and showing up to make a play or make a tackle.

Would he rather get beat over the top or get beat with a run after the catch? what’s more bearable?

“They are both pretty bad, they are both disheartening, but it’s going to happen," he said. “Your best bet is to stay on top, limit a guy getting behind you. I’d rather be on top of a guy and he makes me miss than have a guy get behind me.

“Because you’re not going to last long in this league with guys getting behind you. I pride myself on tackling and not letting that happen, but you’re giving me a double negative question here. Neither. But I’m not letting guys get behind me, period.”

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